Israeli defense officials stationed in the United States have conveyed messages to American senators expressing their reservations over proposed legislation to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and is also supported by senior Democrats.
Despite the bipartisan support, Israel Hayom has learned that representatives of Israel’s defense establishment have told senior senators that passing the bill into law, at least at the present time, was not ideal.
According to the Israeli position, as presented in internal Senate discussions on the matter, Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights was regardless an undeniable fact on the ground, and that pursuing legislation would only spark debate on the matter.
The Israeli position vexed the American lawmakers, who believed such a law would be in Israel’s interest.
The bill emphasizes the strategic importance of Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, in protecting civilians against threats from Iran in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Israel annexed the region in 1981, a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
It also states that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of a peace agreement between Israel and Syria will be an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.”
The bill adds that “it is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure that Israel retains control of the Golan Heights [and that] the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad faces diplomatic and geopolitical consequences for its killing of civilians, the ethnic cleansing of Arab Sunnis, and the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
The senators who proposed the bill, meanwhile, were also disappointed at the lack of attention their proposal garnered in Israel. Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was the only senior Israel official who commented on the bill.
Attorney Zvi Hauser, chairman of the Coalition for the Israeli Golan and a Knesset candidate on the Blue and White Party list in the upcoming general election, said in response that “American recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights is a strategic and diplomatic necessity alike, particularly in light of the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.”
Hauser added: “The Israeli government shouldn’t be satisfied with waiting for the American position to change but should change its own policy, starting with changing the reality on the ground and multiplying the number of people living [on the Golan].”
The Prime Minister’s Office said: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on many occasions with U.S. President Donald Trump, including recently, about the need to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. After investigating the matter, no representative of the Israeli defense establishment has conveyed the [opposite] message or anything in that vein.”
Netanyahu raised the issue of the Golan Heights during a meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton in January. Although the United States does not recognize Israeli control over the Golan Heights, it voted for the first time in November against an annual U.N. resolution condemning the Israeli position.
The measure is also sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Representatives Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mark Green (R-Tenn.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.).